Sunday, January 24, 2016

2018 Thames River Cleanup - Woodstock

Come on out and help maintain the integrity and natural beauty of the Thames River!  

What exactly is a Canadian Heritage River; and where exactly can you find one? Well, not too far from your home, if you are a resident of Oxford County! The Thames River, one of numerous Canadian Heritage Rivers, meanders over a length of 273 kilometres and finds part of its home in Woodstock, ON. In 2000, the Thames was designated  Canadian Heritage River following a comprehensive application and approval process. 

The river's natural, cultural and recreational value were important criteria relative to the designation, as was the recognition that many communities would need to ‘pull together’ in order to achieve a system wide designation.  Of key importance is a continued accountability which must be perpetuated on a year to year and community to community basis, in order for the designation to be upheld. 

Natural Heritage: Whether considering the richness of the Carolinian forest which abuts the river in some regions, or taking into account the river system is home to approximately 88 species of fish, 36 species of mammals, and equally notable, almost 160 bird species, the river’s natural heritage’ is rather remarkable. 

Cultural Heritage:  The river system served as a ‘bloodline’ for early settlements, from Aboriginal roots dating back 11,000 years, to the establishment of agricultural communities emerging about 500 A.D. Even the War of 1812 saw the Thames River play host to local battles, with Shawnee Chief Tecumseh dying in the Battle of Moraviantown. Eventually, the Thames River would become an anchor by which area communities would emerge, develop and evolve, whether by the construction of gristmills to tap into the ‘water power of the river’, or as a means of transporting goods between communities as just two examples.

Recreational Heritage: Pittock Dam, man-made primarily to assist with area flood control, is in fact a present day key player in the recreational pursuits of many people, whether local residents or tourists. Fishing, boating and hiking trails created along the shoreline have motivated many a person to stay in shape and enjoy the outdoors, while hopefully appreciating the value of the river from a cultural and natural perspective as well.

Now if only we could have ‘just a little less’ reason for an annual cleanup. So, a few suggestions to those folks who need an awakening.  Shopping carts should be left at the store and not deposited in the river.  Deer are best enjoyed as a living part of the landscape rather than shot and decapitated solely for the sake of their antlers.  Doggy pickup bags are meant to be held for later disposal, rather than tossed alongside a trail when nobody is looking. And finally, if each and every one of us could consciously minimize our use of, and equally important, avoid the indiscriminate discarding of disposable items, we could most definitely eliminate at least two thirds of the materials picked up each and every year.

I look forward to hearing from our dedicated groups and individuals, as well as new people who would like to become involved. To further enrich your knowledge and appreciation of the Thames River, I urge you to check out the following website!

  •  Contact Cathy Stewart @ 519-537-6426 or for details. 
  • Woodstock River Cleanup 'Formal' Date for 2018: Saturday, April 21, 2018.
Website Links: 
And don't forget to check out the Cleanup website at
Canadian Heritage River System (Thames) Report Card:

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Workplace Skills Development - Join the Current Program!

There are still openings available in the current Workplace Skills Development Program being held at the Women's Employment Resource Centre in Woodstock, ON.  This program, attended by many women from the Oxford County area over the past several years, is a fun and inspirational way to build your resume, your knowledge, and your confidence.

Engage with other women in an interactive, insightful and often interesting environment.  Next week, Heather will be chatting about Employer Expectations and the importance of (and how to work towards) developing a positive workplace culture.  Not too much is more draining than a toxic workplace, after all.  This is a perfect opportunity to share your thoughts, concerns and suggestions in this area.

Several women are already dedicating themselves to the program, which runs until April 1, 2015. (Full time, from 9 to 3, Monday to Thursday, and Fridays, 9 till noon).  You will hear laughter, lots of questions, a wide variety of life and workplace stories, all while earning a certificate for completing the program as well as a reference from our 'Workroom Supervisor' or other Program Facilitators, as long as you are committed in terms off regular attendance, timeliness, personal effort within the program, including your support of others!  In other words, it really should be considered a job!

Some of the Topics and Benefits: 
  • Develop a greater understanding of strategically communicating in a workplace, to assure not only a better workplace culture, but also so you develop a reputation as a trusted, competent, and supportive employee. 
  • Have a hand in 'welcoming' new employees (group members) as they arrive in the program and help them feel a part of the whole. Some of there for several weeks, some come in for a key topic that interests them.  T
  • Learn to identify and describe your most important values, personality characteristics, capabilities and transferable skills with employers, including drawing upon experiences which help 'validate and strengthen' your responses in an interview.  
  • Explore 'conscious' problem-solving and decision making models, which leads not only to better planning and outcomes, but it also helps you to avoid emotional hijacking ... another topic we cover in the program!
  • Develop or 'tweak' your computer skills, and learn how to more effectively (and safely) utilize the internet and social media in a way that helps your job search rather than hinders it. 
  • Sink your efforts into a work room, where amazing creations are made by group members, some of which you get to keep, but most of which are sold in order to help those in need within our own community and within society at large. You truly could suggest you worked within a 'social enterprise'. 
  • Round out what you learn about the workplace with a very obvious 'next step' which is how to better tackles the ins, outs, ups and downs of the job search market.  Learn how to be more effective in your job search, interviews, as well as in preparing job application materials such as resumes, cover letters, thank you letters, reference sheets, and portfolios!  
  • Last but not least, several guest speakers from within the community will cover a range of topics, many of which we find resonate quite nicely with our group members.  
Some members of a previous group displaying not only their sense of team work, but a 'work room' creation.
If you join the program, the very first quilt you make is yours to keep! 

Contact 59-421-2077 to determine the eligibility criteria for this FREE program!